First plenary session of the Constitutional Court with Cándido Conde-Pumpido as president, on January 24. Samuel Sánchez
The abortion law in force since 2010 in Spain is fully in accordance with the Constitution and, therefore, none of its articles will be annulled.
It is the main consequence of the decision that the Constitutional Court adopted this Thursday by rejecting by 7 votes to 4 the draft sentence prepared by magistrate Enrique Arnaldo, from the conservative sector, in line with the appeal presented by the PP 13 years ago that is now dismissed.
Arnaldo proposed to the court to endorse, on the one hand, the system of deadlines and, on the other, to annul article 17.5 of the law, considering that the information provided to women who want an abortion and how it is provided is insufficient.
The progressive majority considered it unacceptable to question this aspect of the law, and Arnaldo gave up writing another draft ruling that would obviate this objection.
The new text
The decision to be approved, once Arnaldo's presentation was rejected, is considered historic in the court itself, due to the relevance of the issue to which it refers and the unjustifiable delay with which its deliberation and resolution have been addressed.
The progressive majority of the guarantee body wanted to send a clear message by taking this matter to the plenary in less than a month from the renewal of the court, and resolving it in two days of debate, in terms consistent with the new bill to amend the law of abortion that is being debated in Parliament.
The parliamentary text does not contemplate that a period of reflection must be given to the pregnant woman who wants to abort in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, and the draft sentence that is going to be elaborated will not contemplate the setting of a period for said purpose either.
Court sources stress that the new draft sentence will be finished and voted on in less than a month.
They also emphasize, due to the terms in which the deliberation has taken place, that what is important about the ruling is that it will give the utmost importance to the value of the self-determination of women to terminate their pregnancy, and to the full guarantee that nothing and no one they may interfere in your way to hinder or delay your decision.
For this reason, Arnaldo's presentation has been rejected, to the extent that he objected to the fact that the current law gave women allegedly insufficient information, and proposed to reinforce it verbally.
Up to now the rapporteur for the ruling would have been able to continue in this role and modify his resolution proposal with the criteria of the majority.
This has been done many times in the Constitution.
But Arnaldo has preferred to resign from the presentation and that the work of preparing a new draft of the sentence passes into other hands.
The progressive majority, deep down, has thanked him.
Said majority considered it very positive that Arnaldo endorsed the deadline system in his ruling project.
But, at the same time, it deems it highly convenient that the task that lies ahead be entrusted to other hands to extract from the draft sentence the critical considerations towards the current abortion law, and its replacement by a very guarantee-oriented text,
Individual votes against
Until there is a new text and it is voted as a sentence, it will not be possible to speak, strictly speaking, of individual votes against.
But in court it is counted on that there will be, according to the recorded deliberation.
Judge Concepción Espejel, who already wanted to abstain from taking part in plenary on this matter, supported most of Arnaldo's presentation, but underlining the criterion that the State should provide greater protection to the
(the conceived and not yet born), so in his opinion the article that regulates the deadlines for abortion should be declared unconstitutional.
The other two magistrates from the conservative sector, Ricardo Enríquez and César Tolosa, did not criticize the deadline system, in line with Arnaldo's presentation.
But by supporting her with their vote, they supported her objections regarding the insufficiency of the information provided to the pregnant woman, and her agreement that the right to conscientious objection should be extended to all those involved in pregnancy termination processes, and not just doctors.
The new draft sentence, however, will maintain said right only in the case of physicians who perform the intervention.
Regarding the appointment of Inmaculada Montalbán as rapporteur for the ruling on the unconstitutionality appeal that the PP filed against the abortion law in June 2010, Constitutional sources highlight the track record of the vice president of the court in defense of equal rights and against gender violence.
The objective is that the ruling that is approved contains a solidly argued doctrine on the constitutional legality of the voluntary interruption of pregnancy within the deadlines set by law, and recognized as a right of women and their self-determination.
Montalbán already participated in the preparation of a report favorable to the law when he was a member of the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ).
Five former PP deputies challenged her together with the president of the court, Cándido Conde-Pumpido, and the magistrates Juan Carlos Campo and Concha Espejel.
The vice-president of the guarantee body did not consider that her criteria favorable to the law of terms was a reason for her to prosper her challenge or for her to have to abstain, a criterion ratified by the plenary session of the court.